Can you return a Recovering Worker back to work in the COVID-19 evolving labor market?

Just before the pandemic hit, in the US, we’d get 200,000 to 215,000 new unemployment claims every week, on average.

Since mid-March, it’s been 20 to 30 times higher than that — 16.9 million people have filed jobless claims since layoffs and shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading nationwide. Nearly one out of 10 people who had a job to go to before the pandemic doesn’t have one now.

Case Study for Vocational Placement During the COVID-19 Pandemic

An In-Person Vocational Assessment and Labor Market Survey (LMS) was completed in late 2019 for Ms. W.

The Recovering Worker (RW) was offered and accepted return to work support in early 2020. Ms. W had an extended absence from the work force due to medical treatment and looking for employment on her own after she was released to RTW.

Ms. W was initially evaluated to assist in settlement activities however following her Assessment and LMS it was determined work was available. Ms. W was offered and accepted, Return to Work Support through working with a Vocational Services Consultant. A vocational rehabilitation plan tailored to Ms. W’s skills was developed to ensure a success.

Ms. W was provided Vocational Objectives based on her work history, education and functional capabilities. Ms. W was provided return to work support through in-person and telephonic meetings. She was provided resumes which were revised during the job search to be applicable to specific job opportunities, free online computer class training support, initial and ongoing job seeking skills training, job lead development and support, interview coaching for presentation (Job Seeking Skills Training) and provided time to pose questions and feedback during this process.

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded and interviews that had led to a job offer that was rescinded (Ms. W had processed all onboarding and had a start date). As we have all experienced over the past few weeks, with the presentation of COVID-19, traditional return to work exploration activities had to be modified for everyone. The Vocational Services Consultant began to refocus the three times weekly telephone meetings with Ms. W to the topic of Job Seeking Skills Training when interviewing in the face of COVID-19.

The Consultant and RW discussed how to safely attend interviews (while maintaining knowledge of State Rules), how and when to ask questions about PPE and COVID-19 for the interview and future employment, and how to focus on opportunities that were viable permanent positions. The Consultant also worked to support the need to pursue extra contacts with potential employers to increase the potential of finding an appropriate position. The Consultant consistently utilized her knowledge of the labor market and specific employers within this market, to ensure the RW had as much information as possible, when attending interviews.

Discussion of Results

COVID-19 presented an ever-changing and challenging labor market. The RW and the Vocational Services Consultant worked together to navigate these new obstacles. Ms. W received a job offer to a full-time position as a team leader to train employees, that provided a comparable rate of pay to her previous position (well above minimum wage) and a full benefits package.

The goal was a full time stable, gainful, and comparable employment to her previous work history, congruent with her education and functional capabilities. This position also met the RW’s requirements for location, benefits, and pay.

DOI: 2013

Released to RTW: January, 2019

RTW Support Time Frame: Referred in November, 2019. Placement accomplished in 14 weeks.

In conclusion, can you return an IW back to work in the COVID-19 evolving labor market? The answer is Yes!